One of the largest economic engines in the state has announced the comeback of more than one hundred conventions and events in Chicago.
This comes after an estimated $3 billion loss in economic impact over the last pandemic year.
On Wednesday, leaders at McCormick Place announced 122 events have already been booked through December 2022.
The massive Marriott Marquis Chicago, steps away from the convention center, also plans to reopen for private events starting in June after being closed for more than a year. Officials announced it would reopen to the public in July.
Larita Clark, the CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, boasted about the estimated $2.3 billion economic impact these events would produce.
“It’s been gut-wrenching to see our employees and those that work on our campus out of work,” said Clark. “We’re hoping things will advance quicker than we expect.”
In April, MPEA said the convention center didn’t expect to run at full capacity until the 2024 fiscal year. On Wednesday, Clark again confirmed that outlook, set when Illinois was still in Phase 4 of reopening.
General Manager David Causton said McCormick Place now has three dedicated state-of-the-art hybrid spaces to attract and connect in-person customers with virtual attendees.
Wednesday’s news conference was held in the convention center's Arie Crown Theater which can now host meetings with “Hollywood production quality.”
“Where can you find a state-of-the-art HD studio with a 26x15 LED wall?” said Causton.
The news sits well with area businesses too.
Restaurants like Apolonia in South Loop are in a prime location to scoop up foot traffic from the major conventions and hotel business.
Apolonia General Manager Marta Suchocka said they held off opening day for more than a year. Now that they’re open, they’re banking on the conventions to make up for the delayed opening.
“We are waiting, counting down the days until one of these events hits,” said Suchocka. “Huge increase in business, especially walk-in traffic [and] private events to get us to the level where we really want to be.”